Aug 31, 2016
New wine collaborative to protect grower interests

The president of the newly established Michigan Wine Collaborative (MWC) believes wine grape growers could benefit significantly as the organization strives to fulfill its mission in coming years.

MWC, a nonprofit organization, was created after substantial work gathering input from the wine and wine grape industry, according to organizers.

MWC’s president, Dave Miller of White Pine Winery, recently talked about the group’s formation during the annual Viticulture Field Day in Benton Harbor.

“We felt there was a need for an industry-based organization like there exists in Washington, Oregon and New York,” Miller said. “For growers, we hope to be able to support research and testing of new equipment.”

He pointed to an air-powered leaf removal machine demonstrated by Lemon Creek Winery during the field day.

“Matt Moersch (of Round Barn Winery and MWC vice president) was one of the people who saw the equipment in Europe and encouraged growers here to buy it. So now we have it here,” Miller said. “We want to work with the growers to bring the latest technology, to make the best quality, least environmental impact. We’re working with a sustainability program with Five Lakes Energy – just anything we can do to support growers’ concerns, initiatives, costs, quality.”

The mission of MWC is to “enhance the sustainability and profitability of the Michigan wine industry by supporting wineries, growers and other businesses and individuals connected to the industry – today and for future generations.”

An advisory board with representation around the state was formed to guide MWC’s development. Several public meetings were held, including at the Michigan Grape & Wine Conference in Kalamazoo in February.

Based on feedback from those meetings, MWC proceeded to build an active board of directors and membership.

“We created a geographically and functionally diverse board and open membership structure to represent Michigan’s wine industry today and in the future.” Miller said. “Our goal is to support the interests of our industry from vineyard to bottle and onto the consumers’ table.

“The Michigan wine industry is growing rapidly and is at a point where an organization of industry representatives is required to guide and support research, education, marketing and legislative action,” he said. “Our peers in states with large wine industries have taken these steps with tremendous positive impacts. The next phase of growth for our industry will require both private and public funds and the efforts of many to set the stage for what is to come. This is a very exciting time for the Michigan wine industry.”

MWC has already been working in partnership with established organizations such as the statewide Grape and Wine Industry Council and more regional Parallel 45 Vines & Wines.

“We are going to direct efforts toward research and marketing specifically needed by membership,” Moersch said. “As a privately funded organization, we will have the autonomy to support projects with direct impact on Michigan growers and wine producers.”

MWC’s website will serve as a central source of information for relevant viticulture and enology information.

“There is so much information out there; half the challenge is figuring out what is current, accurate and relevant,” MWC board member Brian Lesperance said. “We will provide a central repository of high-quality resources for members to save them time and money as they embark on new projects.”

“At this stage of the game, we really want to broaden our membership and get our committees staffed,” MWC board member Lee Lutes said. “There is so much talent in our industry. If we can get more growers and wineries actively involved, there is every reason to believe we can aid in the continual development of a profitable and sustainable industry for the long haul.”

For more information, visit www.michiganwinecollaborative.com.

Gary Pullano, associate editor


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